When Gwyneth Paltrow launched her lifestyle website, goop, in 2008, many people were a little mystified – not least by the name (a play on her initials, FYI). Why would an established actress decide to put her successful career on the back burner in order to focus on a website?
Paltrow came in for particular flak once the public saw the content being published on goop. The site has never, it’s fair to say, occupied a realm that any of us would recognise as reality. Paltrow dished out recipes for bread-free sandwiches, said she’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese out of a tin, and compiled gift guides worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (anyone for a $244 “toothpaste squeezer”? How about a pair of headphones costing $55,000?). Then, of course, there was the vaginal steaming.
But in a new op-ed, Paltrow says she has no regrets about walking away from her less-contentious former career. The one thing she says she might do differently? The whole “conscious uncoupling” chapter.
In the post for LinkedIn, Paltrow says that her decision to launch goop was, in retrospect, “perhaps not that well thought out” – but that she is now “as professionally fulfilled and happy as I have ever been in my life”.
“I have always slightly been wrestling with this punk rock a**hole kid inside me who wants to buck tradition and do things her own way,” she writes.
Gwyneth Paltrow, punk rock icon? It doesn’t seem like an immediately obvious fit, but the lifestyle entrepreneur insists that she’s got a tough streak.
“I (basically) walked away from a career where people kissed my ass to being grilled by a VC or my board,” she says. “I used to worry about myself and myself alone, and now I am responsible for the livelihoods of 50+ people.”
Paltrow adds that she has often experienced subtle sexism in the criticism she receives for goop. “Some of the other women who have followed suit [in launching a lifestyle brand] and I are often pitted against each other,” she writes.
Celebrities including Blake Lively, Elizabeth Banks and Olivia Palermo have tried their hand at launching their own lifestyle brands since goop’s inception. But, Paltrow says, supposed competition between the women involved is “a bizarre imaginary triangulation that none of us feel”.
These kind of rumours, Paltrow says, are usually easy enough to shrug off. But the one kind of tabloid speculation she can’t bear is gossip about the state of her business. In July this year, Paltrow appeared at an event with Zooey Deschanel – founder of yet another lifestyle site, HelloGiggles – where she made a speech in which she said that she hoped “one day no one will remember that I had anything to do with [goop].”
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Paltrow’s comment was widely misinterpreted as meaning she was planning on leaving the site – a misreading that led to some awkward moments with goop’s financiers.
“There is a difference in your mum calling you to ask if it’s really true that you were shopping for an engagement ring (nope) and your venture debt bank calling you to say “what the f**k is going on?” when they read multiple terribly reported stories that you are leaving your own business,” Paltrow writes.
Ultimately, however, Paltrow says she’s proud of what she’s achieved with goop – except, possibly, the manner in which she announced her divorce from Chris Martin on the site.
The infamous “Conscious Uncoupling” post “wouldn't be appropriate now,” she says. “It is a much bigger business and I'm not sure it would be the right place to do something like that.
“At the time, it was still very small and very personal. It was such a difficult time in my life and I was trying so hard to protect my children and my family, Chris included. We were both fragile. It was really tough. To me it felt like this is a quiet way to do this and it is contained.”
Like it or loathe it, it looks like goop is here to stay.
Read Gwyneth Paltrow's full post here.
Images: Rex Features